As the oldest continuing rivalry in the Lowcountry, Summerville and Berkeley have treated high school football fans to a bevy of memorable games over the last eight decades. Friday night the teams get together for a second time this season, only this game means a lot more.
Summerville plays at Berkeley on Friday in a Class AAAAA Lower State semifinal game, marking only the third time in the history of the series that the two teams meet in a state playoff game.
The teams squared off in the 1981 state playoffs with Berkeley taking the win on their way to the Class AAAA state championship after Summerville had won the regular-season meeting.
The next season, Summerville again won the regular-season matchup and followed a few weeks later with a win in the state playoffs. Summerville went on to win the AAAA state championship, the first of three straight championships for the Green Wave.
Overall, Summerville holds a 46-19 edge in wins but the Stags have won the last two meetings, including a 34-30 thriller on Sept. 21.
“It’s hard to imagine we could duplicate that game but with all of the great talent on the field, I could see this game being a lot of fun for the fans to watch,” said Summerville head coach Joe Call, who was 1-3 against Berkeley as Summerville’s starting quarterback in the mid-90’s but is 2-2 against the Stags as the head coach.
“When you look at it, some of the very best football players in the Lowcountry will be in this game. The number of guys who will play at the next level from these two teams is pretty impressive. We have great respect for Berkeley and we know it will be a four-quarter battle to the end.”
In the game earlier this season, Berkeley jumped out to a 17-0 lead but trailed, 30-27, late in the fourth quarter. The Stags scored the game-winning touchdown with 33 seconds in the game.
“It was crazy,” said Berkeley head coach Randy Robinson. “That game had a little bit of everything and winning the game was really special for our kids and our community. This is a big game for our folks. From the day I took the job here, all the talk was beating Summerville. It’s a special rivalry but it’s a good, healthy rivalry.”
The game features two of the area’s top senior quarterbacks in Berkeley’s Eric Tuttle (2,231 passing yards, 23 TDs) and Summerville’s Johnathan Bennett (2,338 passing yards, 50 total TDs).
Both also have standout receivers. Berkeley’s DJ Chisolm and Dervon Pesnell have combined for more than 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns, and Summerville’s Brody Hopkins and Andre Bennett have combined for more than 1,400 yards and 27 touchdowns.
“No disrespect to either defense but I think the chances of points being scored are pretty good,” Call said.
Call and Robinson became official head coaches of their respective programs the same year, 2016. They talked early on about making the rivalry a huge deal after the game seemed to lose fire and intensity prior to their arrival. Friday night will bring that intensity back in a way that hasn’t been felt in 36 years.
“It’s the way it should be,” Call said. “This should be the biggest game every year. I said it after we lost this year that I felt that night what I felt when I played in this game. It’s a fun game and it should be a great game.”
In other area playoff action, Hanahan (8-3) will host Wade Hampton (9-2) in the Class AAA Lower State semifinals. Wade Hampton is coached by Jerry Brown, who guided Berkeley to three state titles and has won state championships at four different high schools.
Timberland, at 9-2 after an 0-2 start, hosts Barnwell in the Class AA Lower State semifinals. The Wolves gutted out a 7-6 win over Mullins last week but face a much bigger challenge this week.
Barnwell (11-0) brings in a balanced offense, led by junior quarterback Craig Pender, who has thrown for nearly 1,800 yards and 29 touchdowns. Barnwell has four players with at least 400 yards rushing as well.
In Class A, defending Lower State champion Baptist Hill (7-2) hosts Green Sea-Floyds (7-3) in what could be an offensive shootout. Both teams possess high-scoring offenses and have scored more than 60 points in several games this season.